Andrius Kubilius. Differences In The West: Do You Or Do You Not Believe That Russia Can Become A Democracy In The Future?

2023-08-31 | Political initiatives, Geopolitical analysis

Andrius Kubilius, former PM, MEP, initiator of  the “United for Ukraine” network

When we observe and analyse the West’s support for Ukraine, we sometimes see a lot of hesitation, questionable arguments and indecision. I believe that much of this behaviour by the West is linked to its attitude towards Russia. There is a fundamental difference between those who believe and those who do not believe that Russia can become a democracy. I propose to look at the geopolitical implications of this difference in Western attitudes:

YOU BELIEVE THAT RUSSIA CAN BECOME A DEMOCRACY IN THE FUTURE,

Therefore:

– you are not afraid of what will happen after Putin’s regime collapses, because you believe that Russia will then start to evolve towards democracy;

– you are not afraid of a crushing military victory in Ukraine because you are not afraid of what will happen when after such a victory Putin’s regime collapses;

– you are not afraid to proclaim that the aim of the West is to achieve the unconditional defeat of Russia, because you are not afraid of the collapse of Putin’s regime and its fascist ‘Novorossiya’ philosophy, because that is what you are deliberately aiming for;

– you are not afraid of supplying Ukraine with Western weapons of a quantity and quality that would guarantee that Ukraine would achieve a crushing victory in the near future, followed by the collapse of the Putin regime;

– you are not afraid that Ukraine will soon be invited to join NATO, even if Putin is vociferously opposed, because you believe that such an invitation will help Russia’s transition to democracy;

– you do not fear that Ukraine’s rapid integration into the EU, thus building on Ukraine’s success, could become dangerous for the Putin regime, as it could inspire Russian citizens to demand same changes in Russia, which would allow Russia to follow Ukraine’s example in creating a normal life in Russia itself;

– you are convinced that the West’s biggest geopolitical mistake in recent decades has been to leave Ukraine for decades in a grey area of geopolitical security, with no real prospect of becoming an integral part of the West (NATO, EU), and that this is what has led Putin to think that the West has left Ukraine in the zone of Russia’s interests, and that Putin may even take military action against Ukraine;

– you do not negotiate with Putin before and during the war on alleged mutual restrictions on hostilities, while pledging to do everything possible to preserve “Putin’s face” and thus the regime itself;

– you are not pressing Ukraine to enter into peace talks with Putin as soon as possible (on Putin’s terms), because you are not afraid of what will happen to the Putin regime later on if the war, which has been disastrous for Putin, lasts a little longer and ends with a crushing Ukrainian victory;

– you are a real supporter of the Russian opposition, both in Russia and in exile, because you genuinely believe that Russia’s transformation and evolution towards democracy can indeed happen, and that it is necessary not only for Russia itself but also for the West, because this is the only way that a sustainable peace can be created on the continent of Europe once the main threat to that peace, i.e., authoritarian Russia, is no longer there.

– You are not a naive victim of Putin’s long-standing strategy of frightening and convincing the West that the Russian nation is oriental, always authoritarian and aggressive, and not ready for democracy, because you believe that both Russians and Belarusians are capable of governing themselves democratically, in the same way as not only the Ukrainians, but also the Mongolians and the Chinese in Taiwan are doing so very successfully nowadays.

YOU DO NOT BELIEVE THAT RUSSIA CAN BECOME A DEMOCRACY IN THE FUTURE,

Therefore:

– you are afraid of what will happen after Putin’s regime collapses, because you don’t believe that Russia will evolve towards democracy after that;

– you are afraid of a crushing military victory in Ukraine because you are afraid of what will happen after such a victory when Putin’s regime collapses – maybe some prigozhin will take over the Kremlin instead of Putin, or maybe Russia will fall into a bloody chaos of internecine warfare and some terrorists will take control of the nuclear weapons;

– you are afraid to declare that the West’s goal in this war is to achieve Russia’s unconditional defeat, because you fear the collapse of the Putin regime, so you limit yourself to loud statements that you will support Ukraine “whatever it takes” and that “only Ukraine will set the terms of the peace”, but at the same time you are silently increasing the political pressure on Ukraine to quickly come to the negotiating table with Putin to negotiate a cease-fire and a peace on terms dictated by Putin;

– you are afraid to supply Ukraine with the quantity and quality of Western weapons that would guarantee a crushing victory for Ukraine in the near future, because you are afraid that such a victory would lead to the collapse of the Putin regime;

– you are afraid that inviting Ukraine to join NATO in the near future would be seen in Russia as a huge defeat for the Kremlin and might even lead to the collapse of the Putin regime;

– you fear even Ukraine’s integration into the EU, because you believe that any integration of Ukraine into the West, thus building on Ukraine’s success, could “provoke” Putin; you do not believe that the success of a democratic Ukraine can inspire Russian citizens to seek the same democratic changes in Russia, because you do not believe that Russia can become democratic;

– you are convinced that Ukraine must continue to be left in a grey area of geopolitical security, with no real chance of becoming an integral part of the West (NATO, EU), because you believe that there is no need to provoke and be angry with Putin, since the West supposedly needs his partnership in the fight against China’s geo-political dominance;

– you seek to negotiate and have negotiated informally with Putin before and during the war on alleged mutual restraints in hostilities, pledging yourselves to do your utmost to preserve “Putin’s face”;

– you are pressing Ukraine (including by stopping the supply of necessary weapons) to enter into peace talks with Putin as soon as possible (on Putin’s terms), because you are afraid of what will happen to the Putin regime later on if the war, which has been disastrous for Putin, lasts a little longer;

– you do not really support the Russian opposition and its activities, either in Russia or in exile, because you do not believe that Russia’s transformation and evolution towards democracy can really happen; you therefore limit yourself to the standard (but empty) statements of support for the opposition and protests against human rights violations; and you continue to think that in relations with Russia it is more important to hold to the “Putin-first!” rather than “Democracy in Russia – first!” principle;

– you are a victim of Putin’s long-standing strategy to convince the West that the Russian nation is oriental, always authoritarian and aggressive, and not ready for democracy; you have succumbed to Putin’s propaganda, or to nuclear blackmail, or perhaps to the temptation of cheap gas or expensive yachts;

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It is because of such fundamental differences and their implications for Western thinking and policy that all of us who care about Ukraine, together with Russia’s democratic opposition, need to do our utmost to convince the West that Russia, too, after losing the war in Ukraine and the collapse of Putin’s regime, can become democratic.

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